Shipyards from World War II through the 1980s were significant centers of asbestos use. The massive increase in military and civilian shipbuilding during the 1940s involved vast amounts of asbestos. When its dangers became clear, many of those products were taken out of ships, creating another surge in asbestos exposure due to their removal.
You may be entitled to compensation if you suffer from an asbestos-related disease because you were in the military or worked as a civilian at a shipyard. Satterley & Kelley, PPLC helps people like you protect their legal rights. Call us today at 855-385-9532 to schedule a free consultation.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber. It’s very strong, light, and resistant to fire, heat, chemicals, and electricity. If asbestos from products used on ships comes loose, it will float through the air and land on surfaces. If inhaled or swallowed, these fibers can cause disabling and fatal injuries years or decades later.
What Asbestos-Containing Products Were Used on Ships?
Asbestos-containing products were extensively used on ships due to their fire-resistant, insulating, and durable properties. Here are some examples of products commonly found on ships:
- Thermal Insulation: Asbestos was widely used as an insulation material on ships to protect against heat and fire. It could be found in asbestos blankets, asbestos cement, or asbestos-containing insulation boards. It was used to insulate pipes, boilers, steam lines, and other hot surfaces
- Gaskets and Packing: Asbestos gaskets and packing materials were used in various ship components to seal against leaks and ensure proper functioning. They were commonly found in valves, pumps, flanges, and other machinery
- Electrical Insulation: Asbestos-containing materials were used in electrical systems on ships for insulation and fireproofing purposes. Asbestos paper, cloth, or millboard were used as insulation around electrical wires, switchboards, and electrical panels
- Fireproofing Materials: Ships required fire-resistant materials, and asbestos was used extensively to prevent fires from starting or spreading. Asbestos-containing materials, such as asbestos cement, were used in bulkheads, ceilings, walls, and other structural components
- Flooring and Decking: Asbestos tiles, also known as vinyl asbestos tiles (VAT), were used due to their durability, heat resistance, and anti-slip properties
- Adhesives and Sealants: Asbestos-containing adhesives, sealants, and mastics were used for various purposes on ships, including securing insulation materials, sealing joints, and bonding components together
- Protective Clothing: Asbestos fibers were incorporated into protective clothing worn by shipyard workers, sailors, and other personnel. Asbestos-containing materials were used in fire-resistant suits, gloves, aprons, and masks to provide protection in high-heat environments
If you worked on or around ships built before the asbestos regulations started forcing asbestos-containing products off the market in the 1970s, it’s crucial to take appropriate safety measures and follow asbestos abatement procedures when needed.
Why Were Asbestos-Containing Products Used on Ships?
Asbestos-containing products were commonly used on ships and at shipyards for several reasons:
- Fire Resistance: Ships are particularly vulnerable to fires due to their enclosed spaces, flammable materials, and limited means of escape. Asbestos, being highly fire-resistant, was used extensively on ships to mitigate the risk of fires. Asbestos-containing materials could help prevent the spread of flames and provide valuable time for evacuation and firefighting
- Heat Insulation: Ships have various components that generate heat, such as boilers, engines, and exhaust systems. Asbestos was an effective insulating material that could withstand high temperatures and prevent heat transfer. Asbestos-containing insulation materials were used to protect the ship’s structure and machinery from heat damage and to maintain proper operating temperatures. Asbestos also helped save those onboard from the extreme heat generated by machinery on ships
- Durability and Strength: Asbestos fibers are strong and durable, which makes asbestos-containing products ideal for use in the maritime industry. Ships are subjected to harsh conditions, including heavy vibrations, impacts, and corrosive environments. Asbestos materials provided durability and strength, contributing to the longevity and structural integrity of ship components
- Sound Insulation: Asbestos fibers have soundproofing properties and were used on ships to reduce onboard noise. Asbestos-containing materials in engine rooms, machinery spaces, and other areas minimized the noise heard by crew members and improved overall comfort
- Electrical Safety: Asbestos was used in electrical insulation on ships to enhance safety. Asbestos-containing materials provided electrical insulation and fire resistance in electrical systems, reducing the risk of electrical faults and fires
- Low Cost and Widely Available: Asbestos was readily available and relatively inexpensive compared to alternatives during its peak use. Its cost-effectiveness made it an attractive choice for shipbuilding and maintenance, as it provided fire safety, insulation, and other desirable properties at a reasonable price
As asbestos use was phased out, other material took their place.
Are Ships Dangerous Places for Asbestos Exposure?
Exposure anywhere is potentially dangerous, but conditions on ships make a bad situation worse:
- Enclosed Spaces: Asbestos fibers cause injuries after they’re inhaled or swallowed. The larger and better-ventilated the space where fibers are present, the fewer fibers one will probably encounter. Ships often have confined and enclosed spaces, such as engine rooms, boiler rooms, and tight compartments. They can have poor ventilation, leading to a high concentration of airborne asbestos fibers if asbestos-containing materials are installed, removed, disturbed, or deteriorating. Limited airflow increases the likelihood of inhaling asbestos fibers and raises the risk of exposure for individuals working or residing in these areas
- Limited Awareness and Training: In the past, there was little awareness of the health risks of asbestos exposure. Shipyard workers, sailors, and maintenance personnel were often unaware of the dangers of asbestos and lacked proper equipment and training on the safe handling of asbestos-containing materials. This increased the likelihood of unprotected exposure and inadequate safety measures
- Longevity of Ships: Ships have long lifespans, and older vessels may still contain asbestos-containing materials installed decades ago. Asbestos materials may deteriorate, releasing fibers into the ship’s environment. Even with efforts to remove or manage asbestos, older ships can still pose a risk of exposure if proper precautions aren’t used
Given the hazardous nature of asbestos and its potential health consequences, it is crucial for individuals working in or around ships to be aware of the possible presence of asbestos and to follow proper safety protocols.
Call Us Today For A Free Lawsuit Consultation
If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease because you worked or served in the military onboard ships or at a shipyard, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm you suffer.
Satterley & Kelley, PLLC attorneys will fight hard to protect your legal rights and obtain the most compensation possible for you and your family. To reach our Louisville office, call toll-free at 855-385-9532. You can also fill in our contact form for a free initial consultation.
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